Congratulations & Farewell Sharan Burrow – Interviews

Australian Workers Film Guide


A collection of interviews to camera, the first of which is Peter Burrow talking about when he first met Sharan, how their Vietnam activism brought them together, talks about some of the campaigns Sharan worked on, such as campaigns for the teachers union, the Metherall campaign, as well as removing heavy toxins and heavy metals from schools.  Peter discusses the personal attributes and qualities that have made Sharan so formidable and successful.

Dave Robson calls Burrow a grass roots person with great intellect and capacity for detail, a person that listens to others and as a result people quickly warm to her, a person of boundless energy. Recalls how Burrow did so much travel that union considered buying a plane as a cheaper option than buying plane tickets. He says that Burrow is a person who can distil information, followed by listening, after which she campaigns ardently.

Joan Kirner praises Burrow for her belief in equality, respect, networking, integrity, respecting people, and working for outcomes that better lives of working people. Kirner felt that Burrow and her shared common values and ideas, outlining how Burrow campaigned for affirmative action for women in union movement and Labor Party. They worked together to turn Keating into a feminist and learned how to do each other favours just like the boys.

Greg Combet describes Burrow as a passionate and strong leader with strong social justice values and a big personality. Burrow became president of the ACTU, even though Combet was general secretary and from the left, testament to the respect for her in union movement. Combet says that Burrow was the best campaigner, and how women have had it tough coming through a male dominated union movement. He praises Jenny George and Burrow for really making progress for women in the union movement. He credits Burrow for paid maternity leave introduction. Combet describes their positive working relationship and how they had to deal with many challenges during the Howard years.  He describes Burrow as a great campaigner with boundless energy, mentioning the Rights At Work campaign as an example and highlights Burrow’s international reputation as the new leader of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Don Henry describes Burrow as wonderfully inclusive as she campaigned to address climate change with all parties, highlighting how Burrow could see a way to look after the environment and grow jobs as well. Merri Blair, a grass roots campaigner, praises Burrow’s inclusiveness and how she makes grass roots people feel listened to and important.

Special Notes/Achievements

Published on disc 2 of the Congratulations & Farewell Sharan Burrow DVD – a collection of speeches, interviews and a short documentary in tribute to Sharan Burrow, on her departure from the ACTU as President, taking up a position as President of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 59 mins

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